"Glass House" in Vinita, Oklahoma
Over the Road Restaurant, Since 1957
I'm surprised anyone can resist a stop at this roadside... or rather roadtop stop!
I had another reason for stopping and it had to do with a page from a 1962 cookbook.
Don and I love traveling and stopping at restaurants that are featured in our vintage Ford Motor Cookbooks. However, I was driving alone and didn't have the book. I called Don in Texas and had him text me a photo of the page, featuring an image of the grand structure that once housed a gift shop, snack bar and The Broiler Room Restaurant.
Brand New Look
I parked and headed towards the doors, beneath the signs for Mc Donald's, Kum & Go and Subway.
This is how it looked in 1992. It was no longer the Glass House, but the World's Largest McDonald's!
Up to Second Floor
I woke up my travel legs by climbing the stairs to the spacious, fast food floor. I should have gotten a closer photo of the Will Rogers statue. I believe the famous Oklahoman was holding a lasso, not waving out the window.
Evidently in 1957, one of Will Rogers' sons, attended the opening of The Glass House. How many get to attend a celebration, above a turnpike... that's named after their dad?
Auto Art and More
There was more to look at, than 25 years ago. There was an interesting piece of hanging art, as well as numerous displays about the history, of what is now called the Will Rogers Archway.
Maybe it was because I was up in the sky, but I felt like I was in an airport. The few people I saw all appeared to be travelers, so that added to the airport feel.
Signs and Directions
Maybe it was the sign saying "Westbound to Tulsa" that made me feel like I was being guided to the proper terminal. Maybe those signs are for the people who get woozy from the view and lose their sense of direction. You don't want to go down the wrong stairs and end up on the wrong side of the turnpike.
Table with a View
Next time I travel the turnpike, I'm packing a tablecloth and some china and crystal. I'm going to order a Big Mac and a sparkling clear, soft drink. Then I'll spread out my feast with this view. This view was worthy of fine dining back in 1957. Why not now?
Proceeding with my Cookbook Adventure
Instead I went towards the gift shop, where a nice looking woman was working behind the counter. I struck up a conversation about the building's past.
A young customer heard my question and butted in. "Oh it's always been a Mc Donald's!" Faye knew better. She was born and raised in nearby Vinita and the Glass House was built when she was very young. When she was old enough, she and her sister walked 2 miles just to buy the lollipops in the gift shop and ride the escalator. She said the place was very popular and held events and proms. She also knew that it had been a Howard Johnson's for a short while. She laughed when I told her my husband had texted me a picture of The Glass House from the old cookbook. She smiled while she studied the beef tenderloin recipe and illustration. I didn't ask if she'd ever dined in the Broiler Room. I figure she would have told me if she had.
Coffee With a View
Before taking off, I had another conversation with a trucker and his grown daughter. He talked about Amish food in Indiana. She talked about taking selfies, while riding in the truck.
I'm sad there are no trucks whizzing by in my photo. But I'll come again and snap more photos... after I set up my table with cloth and china. I'll bring the book, too!
5/15/2018 10:08:43 am
Love that crazy place!
5/15/2018 11:52:13 am
As soon as I saw this, I was like it's a McDonalds. But It looked different. My old college roommate took me to Joplin, Missouri, and we stopped at the World's Largest McDonald's. I didn't go to the Glass House, but I remember the other thing. This was maybe 1998-1999.
5/15/2018 01:46:39 pm
Crazy isn't it! It's pretty much between Tulsa and Joplin, I think. I guess they did a total makeover a couple years ago. We only saw it as a McDonald's in past years. Such a waste of a wild looking building. It would have been so fun to have seen it as "Glass House" with real dining tables and menus and waiters. It still was a fun stop, though!
12/7/2020 08:14:52 am
I enjoyed your beautiful comments about the Glass House. I sorta grew up there as my mother started working there when I entered second grade in 1958. When I was 16 years of age, I worked in the Snack Shop with my mother. This is where she taught me to "flip" eggs and I learned to heat up apple pie on the grill with cheddar cheese on top until it melted (a truck driver told me how to do that and I continue to eat apple pie this way). My mother worked there until 1968 and I was a senior. And yes, our Jr. and Sr. banquets/proms were held there. It was grand place and still is in memory.
12/7/2020 12:20:11 pm
Priscilla, thank you so much for sharing this! You have no idea how delighted I am, when someone reaches out to share a memory... or two. Oh how I wish I could go back in time with you and have you show me how to flip eggs and show me where you danced at your prom! If you ever run across a photo, I'd love to have a peek. :) firstname.lastname@example.org I wish this epic building still served more than fast food, but I'm just glad it's been preserved!
6/19/2021 06:32:30 pm
My sisters and mon were talking about The Glass House today. So, I looked up and saw your post. The pictures brought back wonderful memories. My dad was in the Air Force for 22 years and we traveled a lot. Whenever we had to go through Oklahoma he would try to plan our route so we could stop at The Glass House to eat. This was always a thrill and treat for us girls. It was one of the few times we would eat all of our meal so that we could then get a huge all day sucker!!! We loved eating there at the tables by the window and getting the suckers. I don't know how many times we stopped there...many times!!! Through the years I have thought of this place often. I want to make a trip there just for the memories.
6/25/2021 09:28:44 am
Carolyn, I apologize for the slow response! I’ve been on the road again… from TX to AR and MO and now OK! We just stopped at “The Glass House” and I so wish I’d planned and had my table cloth and dishes like I mentioned above!!
7/10/2021 06:30:31 pm
I remember going to The Glass House in the early 60's with my parents and sister. I grew up in southern Wisconsin, but we would visit my grandmother who lived in Miami, Oklahoma every August. It was a great treat to go to the Glass House over the Will Rogers Turnpike. Thank you for commemorating this icon of another era.
7/10/2021 10:29:08 pm
James, I'm so envious of you and your memories at "The Glass House" in the sixties! What a fun addition to your summer memories of visiting your grandmother in Miami! I would have loved to have seen the restaurant when it was more than a fast food stop. I'm sure you and you sister told your friends back home and they were probably pretty impressed!
10/1/2021 01:55:07 pm
I remember a big rocking horse at the glass house. Do you know if it was restored?
10/18/2021 08:10:06 am
Elizabeth, I'm so sorry I missed seeing your question! I'm really curious about the big rocking horse now! My memories of the Glass House only go back to the 1990's, when it held a McDonald's. I wonder when that was and where it was. If you see this reply, please let me know.
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The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.